Former Councilwoman Lucille Kring is to be commended for opposing the admission tax idea being embraced by several of her competitors (see my post on how John Leos and Brian Chuchua lent their support to the idea at the Anna Drive candidate forum; Jordan Brandman and Steve Chavez Lodge oppose the proposed tax). But her substitute motion for carving out 1% of annual transient occupancy tax (TOT) revenues for city-run social programs deserves some examination.
The City of Anaheim’s budgeted TOT revenue for this fiscal year is $96 million. 1% of that is $960,000. Since TOT revenue will, generally speaking, increase each year, you’d have a permanently escalating, dedicated revenue stream to fund social programs in the city.
Would such programs be effective? Who knows? And effective at what? Preventing a repeat of the summer riots? Make Anna Drive a nicer place to live? I can’t tell you, and neither can anyone else because the plan only extends as far as setting aside 1% of TOT revenues for social programs.
Furthermore, shouldn’t we be getting away from the idea of reserving certain percentages of government budgets for this program or that policy? I’m hard-pressed to think of an example where it works well – Proposition 98 being a prime example. In fact, what this approach does is compresses elected officials’ room to maneuver when setting budget and policy priorities — which is what we elect them to do.
Perhaps the former councilwoman, having rejected the admission tax idea, felt it necessary to throw some kind of bone at the Anna Drive candidate forum as evidence of compassion. I don’t know – that’s speculation on my part. I think she meant well, but this smacks more of spitballing than considered policymaking.